Solo Lisa Reads: February 2019

Round-up of recommended books for February 2019: Robyn Harding's The Party, Aimee Molloy's The Perfect Mother, Shaun Francis's Eat Move Think, Mindy Mejia's Everything You Want Me To Be

I caught the flu from Hubs even after getting the flu shot, and although the virus came and went quickly it left the worst cough. The only upside to being sick for most of February? More time to read. These books (which I received from publishers for review or bought on Kobo ages ago) were interesting enough to keep my attention even through a medication-induced haze.

1. The Party by Robyn Harding. What could go wrong when an affluent San Francisco family living in a nice neighbourhood throws their studious, innocent daughter a sweet sixteen party? On the eve of their daughter Hannah's slumber party, Kim and Jeff Sanders seem to have it all: a beautiful home, great kids, a seemingly solid marriage. But when one of Hannah's friends suffers a horrible disfiguring accident at the party, it soon becomes apparent that the Sanders' life is a precarious, easily fractured facade. Harding's flawed characters feel believable even if they're not always likeable, and at various points in the book you might find yourself wondering like I did—what would you do in the same situation?

2. The Perfect Mother by Aimee Molloy. The Perfect Mother is a treatise on the sanctimonious, judgmental and performative aspects of modern motherhood, wrapped up in the guise of a Gone Girl-esque thriller. A group of new moms called the May Mothers decides to take a break from their babies for one night of fun on the town. No big deal, just drinks on the Fourth of July at a Brooklyn bar—that is, until one of the mother's newborns goes missing and the ensuing investigation leads to a media firestorm. As the search for the missing baby plays out, secrets are revealed and each of the May Mothers must take a hard look at her own life and the demons and self-doubts that haunt her while in pursuit of "perfect motherhood." Molloy's sharp observations about modern motherhood make up for some of the plot's more unbelievable contrivances. The story moves along quickly and the subject matter feels au courant. No wonder it's being made into a movie starring Kerry Washington.

3. Eat, Move, Think by Shaun Francis. Eat, Move, Think promises to be a no-nonsense, definitive, easy-to-read guide on everything you need to know about being healthy, written by the CEO of corporate wellness company Medcan. The short essays are split into 3 sections focusing on diet (eat), exercise (move) and mental health (think), parsing through all the fads and conflicting medical research to deliver advice you can use. Much of what Francis writes will not be news to those who combine health consciousness with science-driven skepticism. That being said, it's a refreshingly sensible approach in the age of Goop and a reminder that you don't have to go crazy with keto diets and juice cleanses to be healthy.

4. Everything You Want Me To Be by Mindy Mejia. Another thriller on the reading list! (What can I say, I needed my books to be extra juicy to get through the late-night coughing fits.) Hattie Hoffman is a high school senior in a rural Midwestern town with looks, smarts and big dreams of becoming an actress and moving to New York City. She's also always striven to be whoever someone else wants her to be, consciously rearranging her personality and her responses for every social occasion so she can be the perfect daughter, perfect student, perfect girlfriend, perfect BFF. The people in Hattie's life don't know the real Hattie. In fact, it isn't until Hattie is found brutally murdered in a neighbour's barn that the real Hattie Hoffman comes to light. With a timeline that jumps around and chapters alternating between Hattie, the police detective, and her English teacher's points of view, Mejia's mystery is a genuinely entertaining page-turner. And side note: I found Minnesota a refreshing change of pace from books set in New York.

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